Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has drawn a battle line with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, following the minister’s recent verbal attack on South-south governors.
Wike threatened to deal with Akpabio if he dared speak negatively about Rivers State, insisting that Akpabio had no authority to talk about his state.
The governor, who spoke yesterday when he inaugurated an office complex his administration built for the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Port Harcourt, said Akpabio was behind a recent publication by militant groups asking the South-south to account for N55trn derivation money.
The new three-storey TUC building has a 500 seater auditorium, conference room and fully furnished offices.
Wike said as a governor, Akpabio carried himself like a god wondering why he failed an ordinary senatorial election if he had performed as a governor.
Wike said: “It is unfortunate. I read what the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Akpabio said. I will tell him to talk less. We will tell him that when he was the governor he was acting like a king. There was money that time. The exchange rate was N150 per dollar. Today, it is N500 for a dollar.
“Akpabio had money but he had the temerity to ask South-south governors what they are doing with 13 per cent derivation. Akpabio should not talk to Rivers State at all. He has no such authority. He is not qualified to talk to Rivers State.
“If he wants to talk, he should concentrate in Akwa Ibom State or else we teach him a lesson here. Akpabio should know that enough is enough. If he should talk here I will teach him a lesson. I am not a sycophant and I am not an inconsistent person. I don’t give a damn. He cannot say he sees me in the villa.
“So, if he wants to talk, let him concentrate on his state, not to venture again and talk about Rivers. If he does it again, he will regret. I am not one of those governors he can turn around. I am not that kind of person. People should say what they practice. I will show you a video where the President said they should come and learn from me what we are doing here. People forget they just come out and talk any how”.
Referring to the Thursday’s inauguration of the permanent headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Wike said Akpabio failed to confirm from the South-south governors the date that would be suitable for them.
None of the South-south governors attended the event, which occurred a day after Akpabio blasted them for demanding an inauguration of the board of the NDDC.
But Wike said: “He (Akpabio) went and asked so-called South-south militants that we should render account of N55trilion. Where did he get the N55trilion from? If we got N55trn then he got N200trn. You came to commission a project you can’t ask the governors when is suitable for them. Later they said they boycotted the programme. Boycotted what?
“You promised you were going to partner with me when we were doing the Eastern bypass, but you ran away and now you are enjoying it. Akpabio be careful. Don’t go and pay money to people to type propaganda against governors. You will suffer for it at the end of the day.
“We know what Akpabio was doing as a governor. He saw himself as god then. Now he has the temerity to insult South-south governors. We will meet one day. If he did well, why did he fail his senatorial election?
“You will finish from Abuja and you will come here. When you were begging governors to come and talk on your behalf. Now you are fighting us. I will abuse you back at the appropriate time. I am only making introduction today. What I will do, be prepared,” Wike said, adding, “Now you have gone to look for trouble; I will give you trouble. You will never sleep again. This is why Nigeria cannot move forward. You ran to the other party for protection. The same party that said they are fighting corruption. You can just say anything; abuse governors. Don’t dare me”.
Addressing the President, TUC, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, and other labour leaders, Wike said the organised labour was dead under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Wike, who approved N50million for workers as a take-off fund to run the office and also donated a coaster bus to them, said labour abandoned their roles in the country to chase shadows and run after the minimum wage.
He said it was wrong for Labour to insist that the federal government should fix the wages of workers employed by the state.
Wike said: “It is unfortunate that labour has abandoned their role in this country and are chasing things just personal to you. All over the world it is known that when government is not going the right way labour will come out and say look, you are not doing the right thing.
“If we are practising true federalism, you cannot say the man in Sokoto should earn like the man in Lagos; it is not possible. The house rent in Lagos is more expensive than in Sokoto.
“You people say federal government should fix. How can federal government fix salary for me; he did not employ you, I employed you. I sit down with you, we negotiate. Then you say federal government should fix what everyone should earn.
“I agree that nobody should earn less than a certain benchmark for example. You cannot also say as you have put that, therefore, people in Lagos are paying N30, 000, therefore, Kogi must pay same thing you are not being fair.
“Where will Kogi get the money from? Oil companies that should pay taxes to Rivers State have moved to Lagos; they only take helicopter and come take our oil finish and go back, leaving us to suffer environmental pollution”.
But while commending Wike for the office complex, Olaleye disagreed with the governor’s remarks on the minimum wage saying if governors were allowed to fix the baseline salaries some of them would not pay more than N10.
Olalaye said “Some governors have decided to cut workers’ salaries without due process, and some if allowed to determine salaries they will pay nothing less than N10 as monthly payments. That’s why labour says it must remain where it is as a standard. The US has a national minimum wage.”
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